Motivated by Loss

Death may not seem like a topic for motivation. However, the emotions we experience with the loss of someone in our family a friend or just someone we spent time with are powerful currents of perception. We can’t avoid the loss of people in our lives just as we cannot escape our own departure. It is a shared perspective, but a truly unique, experience. It is an emotional cocktail of grief & relief when we say Rest in Peace.

For me, imagery plays an important part in that grieving process. When I look at the world around me I see transitions that I can relate to the cycle of life. The Natural World provides some comfort when I see all around me the passing of one phase of life leading to a new beginning.

 It doesn’t matter if it is natural or tragic, sudden or prolonged, in another part of the world or on our street; when we hear the news of the passing of someone that was a part of our lives we react to a new reality. Our lives do go on but with something missing.What remains are memories. We look to our past experiences thru a curtain of loss while remembering the moments we shared.

I find solace in water.Constantly in motion, rain, clouds & streams evolve as they journey to the sea. The diversity is amazing just like the experiences in our lives &those we shared those times with. There is no returning to the moments of life that have drifted by.

After hearing a National Park Ranger say “Water Always Wins” I have often found myself repeating it. It is also a metaphor for the fact that death is an inevitable part of life. I see each of our lives flowing downstream into something larger than itself.

Some find comfort in the dogma of religion. It offers a path to understanding questions, which have no answer. Our grief is enveloped with families & friends in a communal ritual of customs to honor the life of the deceased. Time does not heal all wounds. The new reality has a scar we can’t ignore.

The inspiration I get from death does not have a direct impact on my photography. It has more of an impact on how I will try to use the days ahead of me with the memories of people I have lost.  I try to see things in ways others may ignore. With my camera, which is an extension of my mind’s eye, I try to capture images that show the world I am living in. It can make my life seem fuller. Calm waters.


Head in the clouds

During the last 10 years of my career the amount of air travel was a big motivator for retirement. In the past 2 years I’ve only made 2 trips by plane. However, I do miss the occasional inspiring view from above. I see a few photogs doing nice work with drones but I have zero motivation to buy one.

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Shadows are always a part of the story in a photograph. Sometimes the shade of the subject is all that is needed in the frame. I like the context this image can add to a story as either a beginning an end or even a transition.

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Moments of solace when looking out the window were one of the few benefits of becoming A Million Miler. Not only is this a nice moment in time it is a nice moment in space. The winglet silhouette & the edge light on the wing define the perspective. The position of the Cheshire moon in relationship to all of the other components especially the town below provides depth. The glow of the sunset on the horizon of the entire atmosphere is almost impossible to see from the ground.

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A perk of all the travel was upgrades. The title of this is Coming Home in 4F! My brothers & sisters flying every week will understand. Some travelers may prefer the more visually dramatic approach into PIT that brings them over downtown. I preferred coming in from the West where the view allowed you to see the more a more rural environment. Seeing the waning of winter as spring is on the cusp, is always a wonderful sight.

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I never had any desire to pilot a plane. However, I thought it would be neat to drive one around on the tarmac.

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On the 54th Floor in DTW the fireworks from a barge on the river below me provided a very unique vantage point. Sparkling explosions displayed almost at eye level was something I never expected to see. Being able to add foreground building on the side of the frame & having Windsor Canada, as background provided a wonderful balance.

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Being able to work with talented professionals was a big thrill of my career. Flying with Cherokee Helicopters for a Kenny Chesney Concert was fantastic!!! His craft was designed for stability & he had the eye of a photographer. The best shots were when I pointed the camera & he flew the helicopter. The client was happy with the shots we got.  However, the best shot didn’t fit the format of the show. On a test flight in the early afternoon Cherokee came down the Monongahela, over the Ft. Pitt Bridge & dropped down to approach Heinz field. The rivers around Point Park were filled with boats.

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Inspired by the work of David Burnett & Leni Riefenstahl I saw an opportunity at a track & field event to float a person in the air. It also happened to be a personal best pole vault for the athlete. I consider this an example of preparing to be lucky. OBTW I respect the art of her work but can’t condone her collaboration with The Third Reich. Your reputation is elevated or, in Leni’s case, destroyed by those you associate with.

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Miami sure has changed since I first saw it on the Jackie Gleason Show. Unfortunately this aerial image now creates a sense of significant concern when I look at it. With the seas rising & the potential of more powerful storms the risk & the downside to everything in this image is a nightmare. We must listen to the power of nature.09 copy
8 years after Katrina the Louisiana lowlands coast appears recovered from what the storm had done. On final to MSY from about 8K feet I couldn’t help but reflect on the big picture of how powerful nature can be. Seeing the world from the window of a silver tube provided me with a view that reinforced my perspective on the importance of doing my best to respect the environment. We have impacted the climate & we must take responsibility to do better. OBTW later on in that trip human error caused the lights to go out in the Super Bowl. We can’t control everything!

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This is one of my favorite pictures where the sky is a subject. The simplicity of a fragile bubble floating with the contrails of a plane miles above dissecting it is a perfect example of chance. The dual reflections are of the sun by the peak of the Washington Monument. Photo credit Jessica Kuntz. Her view of the world is one I respect.